Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Cost of War for Scotland?

It would be good to know exactly what the financial savings would have been to an independent Scotland, supposing we'd had that independence before Westminster took the UK into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, I know that an independent Scotland may have helped out in some sort of way (peaceably, I would hope), but I'm sure Scotland's share of the total cost to the tax-payers of Britain over those years would still run into the hundreds of millions of pounds considering the time and expense of those two conflicts. I'm sure an independent Scotland would have utilised this money for adventures of a more local and socially acceptable means to the population of Scotland; education and health spring to immediate mind. We may never know the exact cost figure, but it would be nice to have a conservative estimate.

The sabers are already rattling in the wind, once again, and the wind, a niggling portent at the moment, but gathering strength, seems to be blowing in the direction of Iran. That country seems to be the only major Middle East state left that is vitriolically anti-western and has plenty of oil. Maybe I'm seeing too much in the way of conspiracies and WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction), I only have the previous experience of ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair and Iraq to guide me. But I'm prevaricating here, I just hope Scotland gains independence for Scotland before the British Government decides on any more expensive military adventures. It is not Britain's job to police the dodgier states of the world, even though it seems the states that need the most 'policing' are the ones with vast reserves of oil. Politicians should remember those pins they move about on a map, represent young soldiers on the ground, with lives, and families, and hopes and ambitions. Yes, those soldiers joined up to serve their country, and do so bravely, and unquestioningly, so it seems to me their welfare in regards to where they're sent and what conflicts they are used for, should be given the highest consideration and reflection before any decisions on deployment are made.

The point is, the Scottish National Party (SNP) should make it clear that a small country like an independent Scotland, does not need, nor would want, I believe, a vast military equipped with the latest fancy killing systems. They should make it clear that Scotland's present share of the British military machine would be put towards more investment in the social fabric and transport and business infrastructure of Scotland, apart from, that is, the cost of a small defence force in fitting with the population of the country. The UK has the fifth biggest military in the world. Yes, that small island group, a mere dot on the globe of the planet has only the USA, Russia, China, and India, ahead of it in the global firepower stakes. Why does a country that size need a military that vast? It seems the Great in Great Britain relates in these modern times, when the empire is a fading memory, only to military might.

The SNP should seek out and publicise widely what Scotland's share of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts may have been so the people of Scotland can see a ball park figure of what may have been spent more wisely on other projects pertinent to Scotland in the past, and also to gauge what the future cost of sticking with a United Kingdom armed to the teeth may be. Even without a possibility of an imminent conflict with Iran, the cost of keeping such a wealth of global firepower at hand is crippling, when there are so many more fitting and socially beneficial ways to spend such amounts of money. I know the SNP does not want Trident, or any nuclear weapons on Scottish soil, but let's make it clear that we also do not want to keep and sustain a military machine that far exceeds the needs of a small independent country. Leave the policing of the world to others, or the United Nations, it may not be a perfect organisation, but better that than partaking in military adventures with countries ruled by thoughtless politicians, ready at a whim to commit young lives to conflicts across the globe, and who should look at very recent history and learn something.

On the Iraq conflict: "A total of 179 British Armed Forces personnel or MOD civilians have died serving on Operation TELIC since the start of the campaign in March 2003." (source)
On the Afghanistan conflict: "As at 24 January 2012, a total of 396 British forces personnel or MOD civilians have died while serving in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001." (source) There are many many more that were severely injured in both conflicts.

"As of June 2010 UK costs exceeded £20bn for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined." (source)
"Britain spent at least £9.24bn in Iraq and £11.1bn in Afghanistan between April 2001 and March 2010". (source)

"The British Government is spending £4 billion every year on the Trident nuclear missile system and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan... Scotland's share of that money would be £340 million a year." (source)

"The SNP have always opposed the UK Government's decision to invade Iraq in 2003." (source)

Many people of Scotland know the SNP's views on recent past conflicts, but there seems to be much doubt, and scare-mongering, about the future. As the debate for the referendum on independence escalates and intensifies, let's have some serious facts and figures regarding the costs of previous military adventures to Scotland, and the foreseeable costs of either an independent Scotland, or a Scotland still attached to the UK. When people see the bottom line, especially in these present times of austerity, when essential public services are being butchered by a minority coalition of multi-millionaires, and low paid workers are taking pay cuts to save their jobs while the top directors are basking in 49% pay rises, they are more likely to consider the issues wisely rather than listen to some of the hysterical hyperbole from either side of the fence. Despite what some say, the end of world civilisation, as we know it, will not begin if a small country with a population of a little over five million, may decide to run that country for itself and the best interests of it's people.

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